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Effect of Portland's 'Better Housing by Design' Package Depends on Parking Reforms

The difference between a proposed RM2 zoning designation with off-street parking requirements, versus with the parking requirements is massive, according to this article.
October 15, 2019, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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A proposal to re-legalize fourplexes citywide in Portland, known as the Residential Infill Project, has been overshadowing another, related reform, according to an article by Michael Andersen.

"That other reform applies not to low-density lots but to mid-density areas," according to Andersen. The reform package is called "Better Housing by Design," and it would allow various changes to land use regulations in the city's mid-density neighborhoods, like allowing include shared interior courtyards on big blocks in East Portland, regulating buildings by size rather than unit count, and offering size bonuses to nonprofit developers of below-market housing.

Andersen focuses in more detail on one proposal included in Better Buildings by Design: a change to parking requirements that could create a bunch of opportunities to develop mixed-income condo buildings for the middle and working class instead of high-cost townhomes.

If off-street parking isn't required in the city’s new "RM2" zone, the most profitable development type is a "32-unit mixed-income building, including 28 market-rate condos selling for an average of $280,000 and four below-market condos…" If off-street parking is required, the calculus changes to ten townhomes, "each valued at $733,000, with an on-site garage."

Andersen presents the pro forma for this conclusion, as calculated by real-estate economics firm EPS Inc.

The Better Housing by Design package appeared before the Portland City Council earlier this month, but the item was continued until a November 6 meeting to accommodate the lass of public testimony signed up to speak on the subject.

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Published on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 in Sightline Institute
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